Do your homework. Talking to customers who have used your potential contractors in the past is critical, along with checking their Better Business Bureau rankings. It’s common for potential customers to ask contractors for references, so they should be forthcoming with a list. Be as specific as possible by asking past clients questions such as:
Financial status and work ethic often manifest themselves in payment schedules. If the contractor mandates half of the total bid up-front, he may be suffering financial challenges or worry that you will not pay for the job once work begins. However, for most large projects, only 10% of the total cost is typically due when the contract is signed. Three equal payments of 25% are commonly disbursed during equally-spaced intervals for the total project duration, with the balance of 15% paid upon final completion.
Talk is cheap—get everything in writing. Obtaining everything in writing is paramount to insuring a successful project. Make sure that the contract includes every step of the project—the payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and forecasted end date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which will protect you in the event that he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers.
Article by: Jennifer Elkow
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